Year in Review: Tragedy strikes as year ends

Chip Reese

As the final month of 2007 began, those in the poker world were reminded of their own mortality when one of the greats of the game passed away.

On Dec. 5, the poker community was stunned to wake to the news that Poker Hall of Famer Chip Reese had passed away the night before. Reese, the inaugural winner of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the 2006 World Series of Poker, apparently was feeling ill and called his doctor for medical advice and, after the consultation, went to sleep.

During the evening, he quietly passed away and was found by his son the next morning. Reese was only 56 years old.

The poker world responded with words that aren't often heard when poker players talk about their own. Doyle Brunson, who had a long friendship with Reese, reflected on his life and the loss he felt without his compatriot.

He was joined by many in the poker world, including Barry Greenstein, Mike Sexton and T. J. Cloutier, who reflected on the professionalism and the skills of a man they called the greatest cash game player in the history of the game.

Reese was laid to rest, with estimates of 3,000 people in attendance, Dec. 7 as tournaments in New Orleans and Las Vegas paused to remember him as well.

Perhaps the finest tribute to Reese's memory was announced by the World Series of Poker. In the future, the winners of the $50,000 event at the WSOP will be awarded the David "Chip" Reese Award in addition to the bracelet for their victory.

Annette Obrestad
A stacked year for Annette_15.

Despite the loss of a legend, the games would go on and so would the news in the poker world. Annette Obrestad grabbed one of the most prestigious prizes in poker when she was awarded the European Poker Awards Tournament Performance of the Year trophy for her performance at the WSOP-Europe and the EPT Dublin.

Annette_15 was proud of her achievement, noting, "I am so happy to win this award. I prefer this one [much more] than Rookie of The Year because I was up against such great players."

Canada made noises regarding the online game during December, even to the point of nearly outlawing it. Cyber World Group, the managing outlet of, pled guilty to illegal gaming charges in Quebec and paid a $2 million fine from their plea.

Later during the month, the Canadian House of Commons almost passed a bill that would have outlawed online gaming and poker in the country, which would have impacted the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Canada.

Senator George Baker noticed the provisions that would have enacted the ban before it could be passed and narrowly averted a potential problem for online players.

The dispute at the World Trade Organization between the United States and many other nations continued to boil as well. A WTO court announced $21 million per year in sanctions for Antigua against the U.S. Meanwhile, in another case, the U.S. and the European Union reached a deal to address the EU's disgruntlement with the UIGEA. But that accord only unleashed more dissent on the domestic front.

Under the U.S. constitution, any changes in trade obligations must come before the Congress and be approved before they can be entered. That had not happened in the U.S.-EU deal.

So, as 2007 came to a close, there was still a question mark hanging over the outcome of these WTO cases that have been wending their way through the courts for years.

Eugene Katchalov
A tough decision pays off for Katchalov.

The tournament season came to a close with the top circuits seeing some of their largest events. Eugene Katchalov overcame one of the most difficult fields in 2007 when he outlasted 664 players, including David "DevilFish" Ulliot and 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion Ryan Daut at the final table, to capture the WPT's Doyle Brunson Championship at the Five Diamond Poker Classic at the Bellagio.

Longtime player John Racener achieved his first significant poker championship by winning the WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City and Arnaud Matten won the European Poker Tour's first-ever stop in Prague.

As the champagne pops, evoking memories of the year that was, the 2007 Year in Review comes to a close and the new year brings new promise and hopes with it. will be on the pulse of the poker world and will be ready as 2008 starts with a bang.

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